The American Northwest (as told by bicycle pictures)

August 17, 2014
During our 4.5 weeks in the Land of the Free, we did anything but stay put. The longest we were in one place was 5 days- once at the beginning of the trip with family, and again at the end. We spent the rest of the time traveling around Northern California and Southern Oregon, which in my opinion should succeed and become the 51st State of Awesome.

Here’s our route.

And for those of you who need perspective, the western half of the US:

There’s a few destinations missing off the map since Google feels that no person should need to enter more than 10 destinations with directions at a time. Some road trip navigation system ya got there, Google. Anyways, the above still gives a general idea of how much time we spent in the car.
Thankfully for us, there was a massive snafu with our car situation, and the economy price I paid for a Yaris or Similar Vehicle bought us 4.5 weeks of this bad boy:
Marry me, Chevy?
In retrospect, I have absolutely no idea how we were going to manage 2 bikes, 3 massive suit cases, and 4 carry-ons, and two humans in an economy car. Apparently the Universe also found my plan ludicrous, but took pity on me, or decided to reward us for being generally good people, because the Chevy was ah-mazing. With the exception of 7,000 miles and one inexplicable stain on the back seat, it was brand new. Welcome to America! Yeehaw!
As I mentioned, we spent 5 lovely days with our parents in the Bay Area. There was wine tasting and Mexican food and hugs galore. Pretty much everything I hoped it would be. My dad took the following photo up in Rockville (ok- Fairfield, CA). Scott and I brought bikes- to complicate what was otherwise a lovely day for a picnic. Lucky for us my parents are understanding.
Why is it so hot here?
Ok so we could both brush up on our photography skills.
One of the things I realized when we got home from our holiday is how shockingly bad I was at taking pictures. Basically all I have is bike pictures and scenery (i.e.: virtually none of friends and very few of family). Some blogger.
Anyways, our next destination was Chico. This is our old stomping grounds, the place where we left our house and our friends and our chickens. Going back was kind of a trip. It’s all the same. But different. But familiar and fun, and almost routine. And regardless, hot as hell. But that’s Chico. The following which is a swimming hole at the start/finish of one of my favorite bike tracks.
It’s pretending not to be 105-ish degrees when I took this one. Sneaky creek.
Navigating the lava rocks, clipped in (!)
Making it look so easy and so steezy, as always.

After 3 hot days in Chico (and many beers and lots of food, and little sleep) we headed north to the much anticipated Ashland, Oregon. Ashland is potentially my favorite place ever. It’s nothing special to most people- it’s not Hawaii or Bali or Paris or Rome. But it’s special to us. We’ve been going there forever, I essentially fell in love with mountain biking because of this place. We have great friends there, and I only associate it with the best of times. To say I was looking forward to this part of the trip is probably the biggest understatement, ever.

Anyways, more bike pictures:

Me going down a steep, scary chute, which here looks relatively flat and soft.
Cruising through the rock gardens on the appropriately named “Sketchy”.
While we were in Ashland, we raced the Ashland Mountain Enduro. This race encompassed about 50% of the most awesome terrain in Ashland, while simultaneously beating the living crap out of every participant. It was a long, rough, hot, generally awesome day.
And this happened:
Third. Or what Ricky Bobby calls, the 2nd loser. Ha.
We spent the rest of the weekend in Ashland, before driving north to Oakridge, OR. To anybody who doesn’t ride mountain bikes and more specifically doesn’t like riding them down hill, skip this place. For the non-biker, it’s got beautiful lakes and hiking, one motel, one store, and possibly more trailers in town than teeth.
But for the all mountain riders who want to drop 15,000 feet per day of Grade A shuttle-able trails, go. Go now. Bring full wallets, but do not miss Oakridge.
We spent 2 days with our very appropriately named friend Wild Bill, who showed us all of his absolute favorite tracks. We were shuttled by Willy (who’s name also really fit) into the deepest bits of backwoods Oregon, on roads that inexplicably went for miles and miles and then out of nowhere the start to the most epic trail would just pop out. Brilliant.

The only time we stood still in Oakridge.
Ok, the other time we stood still. This is while Scott was fixing his 2nd… or 3rd? flat tire.

After Oakridge I needed a break badly, but as I mentioned in the previous post, it was not in the cards. We rode the stunning McKenzie River Trail the next day, and in the afternoon lazily made our way to Bend.

En route to Bend we came upon these massive lava fields. We’d been up in the area before for bike races, but just never taken this one specific highway a few miles west- so we were pretty surprised to happen upon this sight.

It went on and on for miles. That was one serious volcano. The view from inside the truck:

Nearby mountains… just waiting for their turn to cause havoc.

We spent 4 days in Bend, Oregon with friends (thank you Don & Marci!!!). My parents met us here, and we enjoyed time with family and family friends, riding bikes and celebrating the 4th of July. This whole part of the trip was a bit of a blur as I was suffering from all the riding and felt only semiconscious the whole time- and because it was full of good times and special moments. All so great and special that I couldn’t remember the camera once.

I ended up pulling out of the Bend race because of the aforementioned exhaustion (in biking we call it “bonking”. This usually happens the evening after a big ride, but for me it happened for about 72 hours after 10 big rides. The worst “bonk” ever.) I managed to get an average photo of Scott during his race run…

I know you want to hire me for your event photography.
We had a few days back in Chico (grand total of 0 pictures taken) and then we cruised up to Lake Tahoe with friends.
To be honest, that weekend is a hazy memory of sun and Lagunitas and good friends and amazing BBQ’d oysters. No photos of us and friends, or the lake, or anything particularly scenic. But there is this one pretty sweet video of Scott on a jump, aptly named the Aircraft Carrier.

Our last week was full of family and relaxation (including a night in wine country- thanks mom!) and reflection. It was a challenge to bring 32 days to a close when it felt like they passed in an instant. Leaving for the second time was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but I have so much gratitude to our families and friends for understanding that our journey in New Zealand just hasn’t come to a finish yet.

Last day in California, Santa Cruz

We are two very, very lucky people.

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